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Salt Lake City, Utah

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Brad Parker
Brad Parker
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Immunity of Spouse for Wrongful Death Reviewed by Supreme Court

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On March 28, 2007 the Utah Supreme Court was urged to abolish the prohibition a wife has to sue her husband for negligence. The case before the court revolves around a January 2002 accident in which Steven Ellis lost control of his vehicle, crossed the center lane of traffic and collided with a two ton truck, resulting in his own death and seriously injuring his wife.

Under present Utah law, one spouse cannot sue another for negligence. Appearing before the Supreme Court, Amie Ellis’ attorneys argued that the spousal immunity proscription is outdated and urged to the court to reject it as an archaic remnant of medieval law.
Many individuals do not know of the exemption and believe that if a person unintentionally causes injury to a spouse, the spouse will be covered by the negligent individual’s insurance. It is the desire of the majority of individuals who purchase insurance that those they care for the very most be covered by their insurance. Insurance companies often use this spousal immunity, however, to deny coverage.
During argument before the court, justices pointed out that if a person is traveling with a parent or with a fiancee and the parent or fiancee negligently causes injury, insurance coverage is available. But under present law, the moment one marries, spousal immunity vests. A ruling is expected from the court later this year.